It seems as if America cannot get its story straight. There is a plethora of controversy surrounding the area of fat consumption when dieting. Some experts say you should steer clear of fat in your diet, while others suggest eating fats in order to help lose weight. With all the focus on fats, there is an important culprit that may be being overlooked: Carbohydrates, specifically, refined or high glycemic carbs.
Carbs and Weight Loss vs. Fats and Weight Loss
According to the late Dr. Broda Barnes, fat is digested and emptied out of the stomach much slower than carbohydrates. This fact has been demonstrated using barium and X-rays to measure food contents in the gut. Thus, a meal of carbohydrates will be digested much faster than a meal of fats containing the same number calories (Barnes 1976). This might leave the individual who just consumed a carbohydrate-dense meal hungry for more in the near future.
Therefore, one should avoid carbohydrates in an attempt to lose weight and not avoid fats. If anything, the right kinds of fat such as:
- olive oil
- avocado oil
- fish, or fish oil
- coconut oil
- flax seed or oil
- hemp oil
may be added to the diet in order to keep the stomach full longer, thus preventing overeating.
One should not totally avoid carbohydrates either. Some types of carbohydrates are better for weight loss and overall health than others. The kinds of carbohydrates to avoid are refined and high glycemic carbs. These include food products that contain refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. The healthy kinds of carbs that one should be eating the proper amount of are complex carbs. These include:
- green vegetables
- starch-dense vegetables:
- winter squash
- sweet potatoes
- whole corn
Serotonin and Weight Loss
If you are trying to lose weight and want to eliminate refined and high glycemic carbohydrates from your diet, you might want to speak to your doctor about measuring an important chemical in the brain: serotonin. The inhibitory neurotransmitter serotonin functions to promote a sense of calm and well-being and is released upon carbohydrate/glucose intake.
5-HTP to Reduce Carbohydrate Cravings
If serotonin is low, this may make cutting refined and high glycemic carbohydrates out of the diet more difficult as low levels can contribute to sugar cravings. If your lab results come back low for serotonin, taking its biochemical precursor, 5-HTP, may help rebuild serotonin stores and diminish carb cravings.
So, when you want to lose weight, don’t avoid fats, embrace them. Cut out refined and high glycemic carbohydrates and make sure to address any low serotonin levels.
Carbohydrates: Simple versus Complex. NutritionMD.org. Available at: http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/carbs_versus.html. Accessed February 19, 2016.
Barnes BO, Galton L. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. New York: Crowell; 1976.
Clinical Support Manager at Sanesco International, Inc.
Nathan Bridges is the Clinical Support Manager at Sanesco. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Health and Wellness Promotion with a minor in Psychology. He keeps a healthy mind and body by trail running, playing chess, and regularly reviewing recent research.